PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers leave the field at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex for the last time this summer. As Organized Team Activities end, we look back at the best players in South Side over the last three weeks.
The Steelers have questions to answer this summer, and those answers begin to surface during the initial part of summer workouts. Looking back, ten names highlighted nearly 90 players who took the field.
Starting with Tre Norwood, defensive back:
Replacing Mike Hilton might not be possible, but finding a new Cam Sutton could happen - and it starts with Norwood.
Norwood comes from Oklahoma as a sixth-round pick who played slot corner and safety. In Pittsburgh, he's playing both and seems to fit right in as a chess piece in the defensive backfield.
It's tough to say a sixth-round pick is going to step into a role as significant as Sutton has played in years past. That being said, his OTAs were impressive, and he seems much more comfortable on the field than he should.
Rashaad Coward, Guard
David DeCastro wasn't on the field for OTAs this summer, and with limited depth on the offensive line, Coward was the fill-in. Not that offensive linemen did much in team activities, but the 26-year-old out of Old Dominion had plenty of reps to adjust to the offense.
What stood out was that Coward never got replaced. For three weeks, he ran with the first team. It doesn't say he'll be the starter this season or even make the team, but it's a good start for someone looking for a roster spot and a team looking for depth.
Anthony Johnson, Wide Receiver
If the Steelers needed any help at wide receiver, Anthony Johnson would be the answer. Since last season, the Buffalo star has been with Pittsburgh and looked like a veteran amongst a pile of undrafted players looking to make the team.
Maybe Johnson gets the short end of the stick after all of this, but his efforts should leave the Steelers thinking he at least has a practice squad spot.
Best case scenario, he continues to impress this summer and finds himself as the last wideout on the roster. Right now, he's certainly the front runner for any stragglers.
Kalen Ballage, Running Back
The worst-looking running back at OTAs should've been Kalen Ballage. Instead, it might have been Jaylen Samuels.
If Ballage continues to show up and show out throughout camps, he's got a legitimate shot at beating out Samuels for the final running back spot. And right now, it's as much on his shoulders to win as it is on Samuels' not to lose it.
Najee Harris is the starter, Anthony McFarland and Benny Snell are the backups. The final spot is Ballage right now.
J.C Hassenauer, Center
If you're wondering who saw the most time at center during OTAs, the answer is J.C. Hassenauer.
Kendrick Green isn't guaranteed anything this season, B.J. Finney is the veteran with questions and Hassenauer is a rising veteran. If they started the season today, it feels like Hassenauer is the starter.
This doesn't mean a whole ton other than he has the most recent experience with Matt Canada and Adrian Klemm. Once pads come on and the team can see how "nasty" Green really is, things can change.
James Pierre, Cornerback
Look, James Pierre is a giant question mark, but he looks good enough.
Justin Layne isn't standing out enough to make noise. Pierre is. And until proven otherwise, that should mean he's the guy on the outside when Sutton bounces to the slot.
At 6'2, 185-pounds, Pierre looks big, physical and plays comfortably. The step between year one and OTAs has been pretty significant. Now, it's about continuing to show that progression.
Mark Gilbert, Cornerback
The Steelers brought in a group of undrafted corners, hoping one of them stick. There are three that stood out, including Gilbert. While the other two - Lamont Wade and Shakur Brown - are more fitted for the slot, Gilbert brings size for the outside.
Gilbert is listed at 6'1, 175-pounds. His mother tells me he's 190. He looked every bit of it, has good reaction time and shut down wideouts, including names like Chase Claypool.
Injuries kept Gilbert off the radar coming out of college. If he can stay on the field, he's got a shot at this team.
Lamont Wade, Defensive Back
Lamont Wade looked good at slot corner, safety and special teams during OTAs. The Penn State grad has some serious speed and uses it to play coverage well over the middle of the field.
Wade and Norwood head into minicamp as the favorites to play a defined backup role in the secondary. At least in my opinion. Wade's best chance at taking the lead in the competition is his speed in the return game.
Pressley Harvin, Punter
Punters shouldn't get the team fired up during special teams drills, but Pressley Harvin III did. Cam Heyward yelled over "hamburgerlar" as he was booting footballs down the field. It was followed by some serious hype when Harvin pinned the ball within the five yard-line.
Harvin needs to adjust as a placeholder. Besides that, he looks like the next punter of the Steelers.
Dwayne Haskins, Quarterback
To be honest, the Dwayne Haskins hype train might be a little overblown.
Yes, he looked like a good quarterback. His ball was tight, he has all the attributes of an NFL passer and Big Ben seems to be very fond of him. He didn't look any better than Mason Rudolph or Josh Dobbs, though.
It's too early to tell on a guy like Haskins. Right now, though, getting compliments from teammates is a good start.
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